Microsoft announced Friday that Windows 10 will be the only version of Windows supported on future CPUs and chipsets. The company will continue to support Windows 7 and 8.1 on older hardware for the next several years, as promised by its support policy.
This announcement will affect those who were planning to run older versions of Windows on Intel's forthcoming Kaby Lake CPUs and AMD's Bristol Ridge APUs, as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820. Microsoft didn't mention AMD's upcoming Zen chips, but it seems Zen will require Windows 10 for full support by definition.
If you're running Windows 7 or 8.1, here's what we know. For systems with Intel's Broadwell and Haswell CPUs and older, as well as AMD's Steamroller chips and older, nothing has changed. Users on those platforms will continue to receive all security patches until January of 2020 for Windows 7 and January of 2023 for Windows 8.1.
There is a caveat for those running older versions of Windows on systems with Skylake CPUs, though. After July 2017, Microsoft will only release the most critical security updates for those systems. In the event a Skylake-compatible update would cause problems for other, older systems running Windows 7 or 8.1, Microsoft will not fix or release the patch at all for Skylake systems. Those who want full support from Microsoft after July 2017 will need to upgrade their Skylake PC to Windows 10.
This type of support policy isn't unprecedented in the world of operating systems. For example, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11 release remains on kernel 2.6.18-398, a far cry from the kernel 4.3 release needed for full Skylake support. The announcement seems likely to disappoint many people, though. 35% of Steam users remain on Windows 7.